While Companies Settle On $45M Payout for OC Oil Spill, Our Coastline Is Still Recovering
The shipping companies partly responsible for the 2021 oil spill off the coast of Orange County will be paying out $45 million to business and property owners impacted, tied to a settlement announced this week, A judge still needs to sign off on that agreement.
But while companies have paid out money for some damages, it’s going to take time before we can declare our coastline “recovered.”
About the disaster
In October 2021, about 25,000 gallons of crude oil gushed from an underwater oil pipeline just off the coast of Orange County after it was damaged by anchors from passing ships. Oil from the spill spread as far north as Long Beach and as far South as Tijuana.
Studying the damage
In the immediate aftermath of the spill, birds were found covered in oil and fish had been killed. Over time, less obvious evidence of damage has continued to emerge.
For instance, after all of the oil-covered kelp was removed from the beaches, the populations of invertebrates — like sand fleas and other arthropods — dependent on it for food, are believed to have declined. That’s a problem because birds eat those tiny little bugs.
The extent of the damage, and the best course of recovery, is still being evaluated by a group of trustees made up of both state and federal agencies.
Who pays for recovery
Amplify Energy, the owner of the oil platform, is responsible for paying the costs.
Michael Anderson from the Office of Spill Prevention and Response within the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, says those costs come down to:
“Whatever you’ve injured, you have to rehabilitate and restore that specific resource. So, if 300 pelicans were killed by a spill, we need to replace or improve the habitat for 300 pelicans.”
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